International Current Affairs 2018
Latest International Current Affairs 2018 with news summaries and current events in International developments, geopolitical, organizations, groupings and fora related updates for India and world with all important national news updates and events for the year 2018. A PDF compilation of latest 300 updates can be downloaded from This Link
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China inaugurated Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge, world’s longest sea bridge with total length of 55 km. The new sea bridge will connect the east and west sides of Pearl River Delta of the South China Sea, connecting two Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong and Macau with Zhuhai i.e. mainland China.
Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge
It includes dual three-lane, oversea stretch (22.9 km) and undersea tunnel (6.7 km) which reaches depth of 44 m. The rest 25.4 km of the bridge runs over land. The two ends of tunnel of bridge are connected to two artificial islands, each million sq ft, constructed in shallow areas of Pearl River Estuary to allow transit between bridge and tunnel sections.
The 6.7 km undersea tunnel is made of chain of 33 submerged hollow blocks, each 38 m wide, 11.4 m high and weighing 80,000 tonnes. The bridge contains 400,000 tonnes of steel. It is designed to withstand magnitude-8 earthquake and strikes by super-sized cargo ships.
The project was initially conceived in 2003, and construction began on December 2009. Its total cost was 120 billion yuan ($17.3 billion). This has been shared in different proportions by Hong Kong, Macau and Zhuhai governments. It is estimated that 29,000 vehicles would cross the bridge every day.
China considers this mega structure as key component of its plans to develop Greater Bay Area. This area will be business hub comprising Hong Kong, Macau and nine cities of Guangdong province (mainland China). This bay area is being developed with aim to rival New York (US) and Tokyo (Japan) in terms of technological innovation and economic success. This bridge will play vital role in facilitating creation of a single market by connecting.
The bridge will put three cities within hour’s commute of each other and is expected to boost economic development. It will cut travel time from Hong Kong International Airport to Zhuhai from 4 hours to 45 minutes. It will also bring down trip between Kwai Chung Container Port (Hong Kong) and Zhuhai to 1 hour and 15 minutes from existing 3½ hours.
This bridge is considered is another move of China to assert more control over Hong Kong and Macau special administrative regions. Both provinces are former European colonies (Hong Kong was under British control and Macau was under Portuguese control), handed back to China in late 1990 and are run under “one country, two systems” principle, which allows them to retain their economic and democratic systems of government (multi-party system) independent of China for 50 years. Concerns of affecting ecology of area especially to White Chinese dolphin also have been raised. Safety concerns of bridge also have been raised after reports that artificial islands has drifted.
The first trilateral meeting between India, Afghanistan and Iran of Coordination Council of Chabahar Agreement was held in Tehran, capital city of Iran. India, Iran and Afghanistan in May 2016, had signed agreement which entailed establishment of transit and transport corridor among three countries using Chabahar Port as one of regional hubs.
Highlights of Meeting
Detailed discussions were held between three sides on full operationalisation of trilateral Agreement for international transit and transport through Chabahar port. They shared view that full operationalisation of Chabahar port will promote connectivity and economic development of Afghanistan and region. They also reviewed its implementation.
They also decided to constitute follow-up committee that will hold its first meeting within two months in Chabahar port. This committee will discuss and aim to finalise protocol to harmonise transit, roads, customs and consular matters for making the route attractive and decrease logistic costs. It was also decided to hold next meeting of the coordination council in India in the first half of 2019.
The meeting assumes significance as strategically-located Chabahar port on energy-rich Iran’s southern coast was coming under ambit of US sanctions on Iran. The sanctions were announced after US under President Donald Trump administration withdrew from 2015 Iran nuclear deal that lifted most of embargoes on Iran imposed for its suspected nuclear weapons programme. India is committed to Chabbar project despite threat of US sanctions on nations doing business with Iran including buying oil or investing in the country. It also has conveyed to US importance of Chabahar project, saying it can be major link for trade with war-ravaged Afghanistan.
Chabahar is strategically located in Sistan-Balochistan province on energy-rich Iran’s southern coast in Gulf of Oman. It is less than 100 nautical miles from Chinese built port of Gwadar in Pakistan. India in 2003 had first proposed developing Chabahar port. The port is seen as golden gateway for India to access landlocked markets of Afghanistan and Central Asian markets bypassing Pakistan. India and Iran had signed lease agreement for operation of Shahid Beheshti port or phase 1 of Chabahar in February 2018. Under the terms of this agreemetn, India Ports Global Ltd (IPGL), an Indian company was to take over interim operations of tport Chabahar and operate terminal for 18 months.